Identity theft: Six clicks from a cyber crook

Posting innocuous personal details on social websites could expose millions to fraud, says Heather McLean. Our love affair with social networking, it appears, may be coming to an end. After almost 18 months of exponential growth, Facebook has suffered its first UK dip in user numbers, down from 8.9-million unique users in December to 8.5-million in January, a drop of five per cent. MySpace also experienced a five per cent downturn in user numbers, while Bebo's unique visitor numbers fell two per cent in the same period.

Too much information: posting your date of birth or phone number could lay you open to identity theft and scams. However, it's the change in Facebook's fortunes that appears most significant. It seems likely that, after gaining critical mass through word-of-mouth popularity, and growing its membership exponentially as a result, the website has reached a natural plateau; everyone who wants to join, has.

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